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May 25, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, business, restaurants, batavia, notify.

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As if jumping the hurdles of finding the right space, obtaining permits and making desired renovations wasn’t enough for Judy Hysek’s restaurant move, there has been the added stress of illness, little things going wrong and nailing down final details that pushed back her opening date, she says.

“Renovation was a huge part of it. We had to do a lot of electrical work, we got COVID in the middle of it. So that held us back,” Hysek said during an interview with The Batavian Tuesday. “It’s just a comfortable space that's a little bit different than anything else in Batavia. You know, I had a Pinterest vision in mind, and I didn't want to copy it exactly. But we got the vibe down that I wanted. I'm really happy with the way things have turned out.”

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Her place, Eden Cafe & Bakeshop, has been settling into its new home at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia for about a month now since moving out of Eli Fish Brewery on Main Street. Her vision unfolded in colors of cream and rosy melon, light olive green and two shocks of cobalt blue from the wall artwork made of recycled plastic Domino sugar bags.

A possibly stereotypical description, perhaps, for a plant-based eating spot, but there is a light and airy feel upon entering. The light cream and melon furniture features a row of booth seating along the wall, with light oak-colored chairs on the opposite side. Flat tan baskets with bold black designs hang on the walls behind while similarly hued light covers — featuring what seem to be leaves that form a circular fixture — hang overhead.

Was her theme tropical? Apparently not, she said, though it emanates a slow-down vacation-type vibe, especially with the cluster of green plants and boutiquey seating in front of two large windows in front.

“It's not really what I was going for. I was just thinking like, boho chic,” she said. “Something not terribly trendy.”

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For those who aren’t familiar with Eden Cafe, it offers a plant-based menu with a twist on some old tried-and-true dishes. There are cauliflower wings, breaded, baked to order and served with mild to hot wing sauce or a house-made sweet maple mustard or Cattleman’s Gold. Cauliflower is the new darling of the food industry, and cauli wings, as they’re called, offer a meaty-like bite with seasonings and a sauce.

There’s a selection of burgers — made with a Beyond Meat brand patty that Hysek said comes “really, really close” to the real thing — served with grilled pineapple, homemade pickled onions, teriyaki and mayo, or with a more traditional lettuce, tomato and French’s fried onions. There are also house-made chipotle black bean and chickpea patties, crunchwraps, salads, bowls and Eden’s popular carrot dogs.

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Hysek’s original idea was to go more upscale with her new location, but customers threatened a boycott. They demanded her crunchwraps — the Southwest includes a black bean patty, seasoned rice, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle ranch — and carrot dogs.

Served in the size of a typical hotdog and marinated in a combo of liquid smoke and aminos with a piquant sauce flavor, grilled and served on a bun (homemade and perfected by Hysek’s father), it does replicate a chewy, smoky grilled hotdog. Want something adventurous? Try the Picnic, topped with a mix of house-made mac salad and crunchy potato chips, or the Sassy featuring homemade sweet maple mustard, pickled jalapeños and fried onions. People love the mac salad, she said.

Hysek hasn’t always been a vegan. It wasn’t until 2015 that she made the gradual transition after realizing that animals are animals, no matter whether a chicken or pig or her pet dog, she said. She had gotten some chickens in order to have fresh eggs, and the Batavia resident fed them every day. She started to make an association with them as living creatures, and how their body parts were something she had been eating.

"I was feeling them on my hands. I would feel them growing and I felt like, I finally made the connection and admitted, ‘Oh, that's a breast right there. Yeah, the drumstick that I like eating. And then I looked at my Chihuahua … so I stopped eating chicken. And then I stopped eating pork and beef and fish, and eventually just kind of went right into veganism.”

ball_cap.jpgThere will be no pressure to follow suit at Eden, but she does feel that most anyone can find something enjoyable to eat there.

“I think people would be surprised at what a good meal they could get, and please their palate even if they're not vegan or vegetarian,” she said. “I think if you have an open mind that you should find something that you really enjoy.”

She has a loyal following, and many of those customers will bring newcomers to try out the meals. Others will come to check out the plant-based options for lunch, dinner and/or dessert, she said.

“There was definitely a need for something like this in Batavia. I think there is a community for people who want to eat healthier or more plant-based foods,” she said. “And then I think there's definitely a crowd that's coming in and actually willing to give it a try.”

edencafemay242022_2200wide-2.jpgBusiness has been good so far, and Eden also does catering for up to 200 people off-site and up to 25 inside the cafe. Although the food is typically healthy, that doesn’t mean it’s boring or plain. Pies and cakes are regularly baked on-site and served by the piece, including the lemon meringue. A soft, fluffy meringue is piped onto a bed of sweet-tart lemon curd and tucked into a golden brown, homemade crust. None of it is made with animal products, she said.

Nicole DellaPenna is the head chef and manager, and there are prep and line cooks, plus a baker, to take care of demand, Hysek said. With an entrepreneurial spirit ever since she was in elementary school, Hysek started out collecting and then selling pencils and paper to her siblings. She has grown up to operate her first brick-and-mortar establishment, she said.

“Our volume has definitely increased since we left (Main Street); it's fantastic,” she said. “I was kind of, it's going to go either way, we have no idea how it's going to work out, and we're really happy with the (outcome).”

Eden Cafe & Bakeshop is at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dining in or take-out. For more information, call (585) 815-4487.

Top photo: Judy Hysek, owner of Eden Cafe & Bakeshop, at her new location at 242 Ellicott St., Batavia. Cauli wings, carrot dogs, lemon meringue pie and strawberry salad are just some of the many plant-based dishes awaiting hungry diners.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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November 10, 2021 - 11:06pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, business, Le Roy, restaurants.

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Sweet Betty’s grand opening was a long time in coming.

In fact, about 14 months long. Blame it on Covid-19, that insidious virus that closed a few businesses and left others short-staffed due to employee scarcity. 

“We opened Aug. 3, 2020,” co-owner Gabby Keister said Wednesday at her Le Roy restaurant. “Because of Covid, we didn’t want to promote a crowd. We kept saying we’ll do it ‘next month,’ and we never did. We want people to know we’re open.”

That long-awaited grand opening finally happened today. The establishment actually was to open even earlier. Keister, whose nickname is Betty, and her husband Scott, bought the site at 15 Main St. in February 2020 and strategized a spring opening. It would be a sweets-themed shop of ice cream and candy. They were in the thick of Covid-19 at that point, so the couple kept working on the interior renovations while cleaning out most everything from the former diner. 

Not exactly strangers to the restaurant field, the Keisters owned and operated Le Roy Country Club for three and a half years about 25 years ago. Children and the demands of raising a family prompted them to close, she said. Now that the kids are older, the couple decided to give it another try.

Bright yellow walls and a black-and-white checkered floor provide a welcoming, cozy greeting. There is seating for 75 diners, and take-out and delivery are also available. The menu morphed into lunch, dinner, and desserts.

“We kept getting bigger and better ideas … and it just flourished,” she said. “Our objective is to have something for everyone.” 

For local patrons, it was apparently worth the wait. Regulars line up for burgers, pizza, chicken tenders, specialty desserts, and the Flying Betty sandwich, Keister said. The burgers are a trio blend of three different cuts of meat, which has made them a hit amongst customers, Mr. Keister said. He deals with a vendor that exclusively provides the meat combo to Sweet Betty’s in the Le Roy area.

Most of the meals are handmade from scratch, such as tenders of breaded chicken breast, a gooey salted caramel cheesecake individually sized, and seasonal desserts and cookies. The pumpkin flavor is the star of the show right now. 

One of the most popular dishes is the Flying Betty, a fried chicken breast topped with homemade coleslaw and pickles. That “came from a mistake,” Mrs. Keister said. Staff sampled it and thought it was good enough to put on the menu.

Wraps, fruit and vegetable salads, brownies, and 27 flavors of Perry’s ice cream round out the menu, plus the homemade chocolate and vanilla waffle cones. And several varieties of draft and canned beer, red and white wine, frozen wine slushies, and — especially cool with the teenagers — bubble tea. Just as it sounds, a bubble is placed in the bottom of a glass, tea is added, and the bubble travels up the straw and pops. 

Mrs. Keister feels good to know that parents are comfortable enough to drop off their kids for a burger at the place, she said. That’s an indication of what she wanted it to be: a “clean, safe, friendly atmosphere,” she said. 

“In that respect, we’ve been very successful; we get a lot of compliments,” she said.

In its short existence thus far, Sweet Betty's has already become a gathering place for the Le Roy community, said Steven Falitico, membership development director of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

Falitico sees the restaurant as a great addition to Main Street, Le Roy.

“Small town charm is strong in Genesee County, and it's our local businesses, like Sweet Betty's, that make our communities more enjoyable places to live,” he said. “A special thank you from The Chamber goes out to Gabby Keister, the owner of the establishment. She was born and raised in Le Roy and wanted to make an impact on her hometown. Her entrepreneurial spirit and drive are what made this restaurant possible.”

Hours are 11:30 a.m to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call 585-502-6084.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Top photo: Today's ribbon cutting.

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Gabby Keister, her husband Scott Keister, and their son Scott (on left).

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May 14, 2021 - 3:14pm

Alabama Hotel, 1353 Lewiston Road, Basom. Menu. Wednesday 4 to 10 p.m. for bar food and pizza dine-in, and takeout. Thursday thru Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m. for full menu dine-in and take out. (585) 948-9994

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia. Indoor dining and take out. Tuesday & Thursday 11a.m. to 8 p.m. / Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. Menu. Now accepting reservations for parties of 5 to 10 people. Also, call-ahead seating for parties of up to 4 people within an hour of arrival. (585) 344-2999

Angry Charlie's Smokehouse & BBQ, 341 Ellicott St., Batavia. Authentic Eastern North Carolina BBQ. Eat in / Take out / Curbside pick up / Delivery. Open Tuesday thru Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (585) 322-5260

Batavia's Original, 500 E. Main St., Batavia. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. / Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. Heated patio. Daily specials. Online ordering, curbside pick up, dine in. No-contact delivery upon request. Menu. (585) 343-3303

Batavia Restaurant Supply Inc., 301 W. Main St., Batavia. All kinds of food, paper products, cleaning supplies sold, in addition to latex & mylar balloons, holiday & party supplies, restaurant equipment & supplies, and food-service smallwares. Hours are Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Sundays. Website. (585) 343-2139

Blondies Sip-n-Dip, 670 E. Main Street Road, Batavia. Serving Hershey's hard ice cream with a large selection of delicious flavors and toppings, decorated waffle cones, specialty sundaes, milkshakes and more! Different soft-serve flavors weekly -- including dairy free! Currently open daily from 1 to 9 p.m. Take a walk on the Ellicott Trail and stop in for a treat afterward. Visit us on Facebook or Instagram.

Bourbon & Burger Co., 9 Jackson St., Batavia. Dine in or take out: Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays. Menu. (585) 219-4242

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia. Open Friday and Saturday nights only, 4 to 9 p.m. Call for reservations. Menu. (585) 343-7470

Chap's Elba Diner, 5 S. Main St., Elba. Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Menu. (585) 757-5001 or (585) 797-7505

Cinquino's Pizza, 314 Ellicott St., Batavia. Dine in, take out, curbside pick up. Delivery within Batavia city limits. Menu. Monday thru Thursday 11a.m. to 9 p.m. / Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. / Sunday 12 to 8 p.m. Order deadline is noon Friday for pick up Sunday or Monday. (585) 343-2447

Commit to Well, 301 North St., Batavia (YWCA side entry near driveway). Healthy meal prep service. Choose meals online -- orders are due by noon on Friday for pick up: Sundays 10 to 11 a.m. only / Mondays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., or 4 to 6 p.m. / or pick up at Public Coffee Hub on Harvester Avenue M-F 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. ENJOY! Meals are $8 each, plus tax. New menu weekly. Email: [email protected]. (585) 409-5740

Dave's Ice Cream, 3872 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. Only locally purchased products, including Perry's hard ice cream in a wide variety of yummy flavors and toppings, plus homemade waffle cones. Different soft-serve flavors weekly; also sugar free! Open from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily. Visit online.

D & R Depot Restaurant, 63 Lake St., Le Roy. Dine in, curbside pick up, free delivery in Le Roy, $1/mile elsewhere (no minimum). Full menu! Open 7 days a week 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (585) 768-6270. Order online, or call (585) 768-6270.

Eden Vegan Cafe & Bakeshop, 109 Main St. (inside Eli Fish), Batavia. Takeout only. Pre-order via the website for pick up. Menu temporarily reduced. Hours Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 to 8 p.m. (585) 815-4487

Eli Fish Brewing Co., 109 Main St., Batavia. Dine-in, take out, and DoorDash delivery. Monday thru Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. / Closed Sunday. Menu. (585) 343-0008

Fishtales Hideaway, 107 Evans St., Batavia. Dine in and take out available. Open Monday through Thursday 1 to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 1 to 9 p.m. Full bar. Here's our website and menu. (585) 219-4736

Islands Hawaiian Grill, 60 Main St., Batavia. Delivery, curbside, pick up, dine in. Tuesday thru Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. / Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Menu. (585) 483-3113

Mama Chavez's Taqueria, 7 Mill St., Le Roy. Takeout only. Tues - Fri. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. / Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Closed Sunday & Monday. Daily specials. Call in your order for pick up (585) 502-5093.

Northside Deli, 162 Bank St., Batavia. Open 7 days a week. Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Sundays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Full menu available to take out. Order ahead of time for fast service. Website. (585) 323-2888

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, 5 School St., Batavia. "Old-fashioned Comfort Food." Facebook page. (585) 343-3270

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia. Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Inside store shopping, curbside pick up. Ice cream parlor open. (585) 343-5888

Plaza Spirits, 563 E. Main St., Batavia (in Eastown Plaza). Open 7 days a week -- even Sunday! Come in and see us: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. / Friday & Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. / and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Or give us a call! (585) 343-4938

Pok-A-Dot, 229 Ellicott St., Batavia. Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dine in, take out, order by phone, or order online for pick up at "The Dot." (585) 343-6775

Public Coffee Hub, 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia. Full-service cafe -- dine in or carry out. Also food truck drive-thru at 355 W. Main St., Batavia. Free WiFi at cafe & TapGlo ping-pong available to buy. Locally roasted beans, fresh baked goods, Montreal bagels, chai lattes, hot cocoa, and more. Monday thru Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cafe (716) 392-2561. Food truck (323) 484-3482. Can text to order, too.

Roman's, 59 Main St., Batavia. Patio and indoor dining. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Last reservation and pick up time is 8:45 / Closed Sunday & Monday. Menu. (585) 345-6788

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia. Dine in. Pick up. Online ordering. DoorDash. Open Monday thru Saturday 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. / Sunday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Menu. (585) 343-7443

Southside Deli, 300 Ellicott St. (corner of Liberty Street), Batavia. Take out only. Open 7 days a week: Sunday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Tuesday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. All deli and store items are available. Menu. Call ahead for quicker service. (585) 344-2220

Subway -- two franchises: the one inside Batavia Walmart, the other one at 8394 Alleghany Road, Pembroke, operated by Oakfield resident Doug Hendershott Jr. Open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eat in or take out. Order in person, online, or by phone. Walmart Subway phone is (585) 343-3023. Pembroke phone is (585) 591-1549.

Sweet Betty's, 15 Main St., Le Roy. Menu includes Perry's hard ice cream, soft serve, floats, etc., plus burgers, sandwiches, old-time candy, adult beverages. Fish fry on Wednesdays. Closed Tuesdays. Wednesday thru Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (585) 502-6084

T.F. Brown's, 214 E. Main St., Batavia. Delivery, curbside pick up, dine in. Monday thru Sunday from 12 to 10 p.m. Order online or phone (585) 343-1547.

The Coffee Press, 13 Jackson St., Batavia. Dine in or take out. Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed Sunday. Menu. (585) 483-3096

The Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant, 6492 E. Main St., Stafford. Open for in-house dine-in service Tuesday through Sunday 4 to 8 p.m. Curbside service available those days, too. Ordering starts at 1 p.m., pick up starts at 4:15. Specials can be viewed at [email protected] or on our Facebook page.

The Yngodess Shop, 73 Main St., Batavia. Curbside pick up, and free delivery with a $20 minimum (1 - 6 p.m.), call for more details. Sunday 12 - 6 p.m., Monday & Tuesday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesday thru Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit online. Call in your order. (585) 343-3170

West Main Wine & Spirits, 341 W. Main St., Batavia. Buy in-store or offering curbside pick up. Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. / Sunday 12 to 6 p.m. (585) 344-2717

Willow Bend Inn, 3489 W. Main Street Road, Batavia. Bar is open Tuesday thru Friday. Dine in or take out in restaurant from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Check our Facebook page for different specials & menu every Friday.

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If you send us updated information about your establishment, we will add it to this list. There is no charge.

To be added, email details, including location, hours, a link for menu, and delivery/pick up/dine-in options to:   [email protected]

December 7, 2020 - 4:45pm
posted by Press Release in COVID-19, business, restaurants.

Press release from the New York Restaurant Association:

“Based on the current metrics and projections, Governor Cuomo has given New Yorkers a one-week warning that indoor dining will likely be shut down, regardless of the number of positive cases that are specifically tied back to restaurants.

"The confusing, patchwork system of micro-clusters, regional restrictions and blanket statewide rollbacks has made it virtually impossible for restaurants to continue indoor dining.

"Whether it is positivity rate or hospitalization rate, all of these factors are outside of restaurants’ control. With the looming limits on indoor dining and outdoor dining no longer practical, many of our members will be forced to shut their doors, and for some it may be their final service.

"Based on today’s news, many restaurants will have no other choice, and hundreds of thousands of restaurant employees will be laid off during the holidays. As we just heard Governor Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci say today, the restaurant industry is on life support and will die without financial assistance from the federal government.

"We need our elected officials, including Governor Cuomo, to be our biggest advocates.”

October 1, 2020 - 5:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Angry Charlie's Carolina BBQ, food, restaurants, business, batavia.

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With winter on the horizon, Chuck Martin has found a location for indoor dining in Batavia for his BBQ stand, Angry Charlie's.

In June, Martin and partner Ken Prufrock opened Angry Charlie's at a location on West Main Street. By a week from Tuesday, they hope to be ready to open at 341 Ellicott St., Batavia, at the corner of Ellicott and Swan, the former location of Pasquale's Italian Eatery.

The restaurant will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There will be indoor dining for about 25 people and as long as the weather holds, a couple of picnic tables outside.

The change will also allow Angry Charlie's to free up its food trailer for catering and events.

There will also be a couple of menu changes: brisket every day, smoked haddock on Fridays, and (whether permitting) BBQ chicken on Saturdays. There will also be a children's menu.

Previously:

Video Sponsor
May 21, 2020 - 6:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Gilliana's Diner, batavia, Jackson Street, news, restaurants, business, notify.

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The middle of an economic lockdown may not seem like the ideal time to open a new restaurant but when it's something you were planning and dreaming about before a global pandemic was announced, that's what you do as soon as you can.

Gilliana's Diner, on Jackson Street, in the former location of Sylvania's, opened yesterday.

"We're super excited," said Jill Antinore, who owns the new eatery with her husband Mark.

Jill said they purchased the restaurant Feb. 1 then the global health emergency hit and the County Health Department wasn't issuing health permits. They had to wait until the Health Department was able to give them the OK to open.

Opened for breakfast and lunch -- except on Friday when they offer a dinner menu -- Jill described the diner as "a breakfast place with Italian specialties."

Available for takeout now are typical breakfast items, such as bacon and eggs, and items such as "The Godfather," which is egg, provolone, Italian sausage, sweet or hot peppers; and "Italian eggs in Purgatory," which is two eggs poached in homemade tomato sauce, with cannellini beans, peppers and onions.

The lunch menu includes tripe, homemade meatballs, agrodolce, and parmesan chicken wings.

Hours are Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Friday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. The diner is closed on Wednesdays.

The phone number is (585) 201-7772.

May 21, 2020 - 5:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, news, COVID-19, notify, batavia.

As the weather warms, several local restaurant owners, who have been operating under coronavirus lockdown conditions for two months, are looking to outdoor -- al fresco -- dining as a way to attract more customers while maintaining social distancing.

City Manager Martin Moore said he's interested in exploring the idea further. Currently, restaurants won't be able to reopen under the governor's plan for the post-lockdown economy until Phase Three. Moore said he would like to explore giving restaurants a way to serve more diners, besides curbside and delivery.

Several restaurants in Batavia -- Roman's, T.F. Brown's, Islands Hawaiian Grill, O'Lacy's Irish Pub, Center Street Smoke House, for example -- have patios. Settler's has a patio-like space in front of the restaurant and owner John Spyropoulous would like to put it to use. Main St. Pizza Co. has in the past offered seats and tables on the sidewalk and that might be an option for other locations, but with social distancing requirements, restaurants might be looking for more space.

That could mean adjoining or nearby city-owned parking lots or Jackson Square.

Moore said he would have to check with code enforcement about using city property for restaurant use.

Derek Geib, owner of Roman's, Bourbon and Burger Co., and The Coffee Press, is eager to offer outdoor dining. Roman's has an open patio and a patio with retractable windows. While Bourbon and Burger and The Coffee Press don't have patios -- though they can offer sidewalk dining -- both have easy access to Jackson Square. So do Eli Fish, Center Street and the newly opened Gilliana's, but Geib thinks all restaurants that want to participate should have access to diners in Jackson Square.

Matt Gray, the owner of Eli Fish, is also eager to see Jackson Square opened up to diners, with tables spaced at least six feet apart, of course. Gray also owns Alex's Place and he said if there was customer interest, he would explore creating a dining area in the restaurant's parking lot.

The rub for most restaurant owners, however, is the ability to serve alcohol, especially on city property. The would require both the state and the city to make allowances for alcohol service but the state did recognize the importance of alcohol sales to restaurants at the start of the lockdown. Restaurants are allowed to sell alcohol during the lockdown during curbside pickup and delivery.

Moore said if the state would allow it and there is no local law that prohibits it, he is open alcohol sales in Jackson Square or in a designated space in a city-owned parking lot.

“If they give us some kind of ability for our restaurants to have more customers, we’re definitely going to explore every angle to try and make that reality," Moore said.

On a statewide basis, the New York Restaurant Association is supporting outdoor dining and today issued this statement:

“As parts of the state have begun the reopening process and other regions are progressing towards that goal, the New York State Restaurant Association is urging the state to allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining during phase two. Just this week, outdoor dining was included in phase one in Connecticut’s reopening.

Additionally, we are formally asking for expanded outdoor dining capabilities, an emphasis on social distancing requirements over capacity limits, and allowing continued sales of alcohol to-go. Just about every restaurant in the state is teetering on the edge of financial hardship, and we need to do everything possible to keep them afloat.

“To do our part, NYSRA, our members, and all restaurants in the state will continue to follow stringent sanitation practices to ensure the safety of our patrons and staff. That’s the promise that we’re making to our guests, who we can’t wait to serve again.”

March 23, 2020 - 5:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, restaurants, The Great American Takeout.

Press release:

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center is encouraging area residents to take the night off from cooking on Tuesday, March 24th and order takeout!

A national coalition of restaurants has organized “The Great American Takeout” on Tuesday, March 24, asking Americans to order at least one delivery or pickup meal on Tuesday to show support for the restaurant industry.

Many of our favorite restaurants are still working hard to keep us fed and the only way to support these struggling businesses is to order takeout or delivery.  

Staying home doesn't mean you have to miss out on "Taco Tuesday" or your favorite weekly specials; order takeout, delivery or curbside pickup and be part of something bigger: #TheGreatAmericanTakeout

There are great breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert options on this list, so be sure to show your support all day!

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Editor's Note: Click here for The Batavian's list of local restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery.

March 20, 2020 - 11:15am

Statement from Melissa Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association:

“We are happy to announce that all New York small businesses, including restaurants, are now eligible for low-interest loans through the federal Small Business Administration.

"Up until (now), New York businesses were unable to apply for these much needed loans due to communities not being listed as 'disaster areas.' Through continued conversations with Empire State Development and representatives from the federal SBA program, we’ve conveyed how serious the situation is for New York restaurants.

"Many have already shut their doors and will not be able to reopen. While this is a great first step, we need to find additional ways to save the restaurant industry. When this pandemic is over, going out for a nice meal will help us all feel normal again. But some restaurants simply won’t make it.”

UPDATE 1:48 p.m.: “We can’t thank Governor Cuomo and state officials enough for forgiving interest and penalties on late sales tax payments," Fleishut said. "For some restaurants, this little bit of breathing room could mean the difference between paying employees and shutting their doors forever. That being said, this relief is temporary, and we’ll continue to advocate for additional ways to help restaurants survive during this crisis.”

March 17, 2020 - 10:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, batavia, news, COVID-19.

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It was a very different atmosphere in O'Lacy's Irish Pub in Batavia tonight -- St. Patrick's Day, an evening when O'Lacy's should be brimming with life and overflowing with Guinness.

Instead, it was quiet, perhaps even a bit melancholy, as the community adjusts to social distancing in the era of coronavirus.  

The good news is, O'Lacy's sold out of corned beef and cabbage dinners.

It was also a good night for take-out at Eli Fish (including take-out brews --  yes, local bars and restaurants can serve you take-out alcohol during the present executive directive). Other restaurant owners we spoke with said they are cautiously optimistic about how things will work out now that there is a temporary prohibition about on-site dining and drinking in bars and restaurants.

Click here for a list of local establishments offering delivery and pickup.

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"Onward"

September 5, 2019 - 5:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, downtown, business.
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Kourtney and Cait Kunichika have opened Islands Hawaiian Grill on Main Street in Batavia (former location of Larry's Steakhouse).

Kourtney, from California, moved to Western New York to play hockey at RIT and eventually became a professional hockey player in Buffalo.

While living in Batavia, she started working at local restaurants and found she really loved food and hospitality, so the restaurant is inspired by both her passion for her Hawaiian culture -- especially since there are no Hawaiian restaurants in Western New York -- and her passion for the restaurant business.

July 12, 2019 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mama Chavez Taqueria, Le Roy, video, restaurants, business.
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Mama Chavez Taqueria opens today in Le Roy. Owner Maria Chavez and her sons held a ribbon-cutting and an open house for invited guests yesterday. This is an authentic -- very authentic -- Mexican restaurant.  

Chavez has been cooking Mexican food, using recipes handed down through her family, for her children and family friends for 30 years. It's always been her dream to open a restaurant.  

The restaurant is located at 7 Mill St. and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

July 11, 2019 - 4:44pm

Press release from the GC Health Department:

The Genesee County Health Department has recently been awarded a grant to provide the hepatitis A vaccine to food-service workers at NO COST to them or the employer.

In Western New York and across the United States, foodborne outbreaks of hepatitis A have occurred as a result of infected food-service workers.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans counties, understands the severity of hepatitis A and the effect it can have on a business and community.

“Hepatitis A is a serious issue because most food-service workers will spread the infection before even knowing they have the disease," Bedard said. "A food-service worker can spread the virus to customers or other staff by contaminating surfaces, utensils and/or food, which can make unvaccinated individuals very sick.

"By offering the vaccine to food-service workers, we can prevent unnecessary illness from spreading in the community.”

Hepatitis A is a contagious (spreadable) liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A Virus (HAV). It is typically spread through the feces (poop) of infected individuals.

Someone can become infected by consuming food or drink that has been contaminated by feces as well as having close personal contact with a person who is infected, or use of injection and non-injection drugs.

The symptoms of HAV may include sudden onset of fever, loss of appetite, nausea / vomiting, stomach pain, dark-colored urine and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes). HAV usually does not have signs or symptoms until the second week of infection and is the most infectious during this time.

The good news is that hepatitis A can be prevented through vaccination!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine has a 94- to 100-percent efficacy rate.

The hepatitis A vaccine is a two-dose series that is administered six months apart. As the vaccine is not required to attend school or daycare, many people have not received it.

Currently three local restaurants have taken advantage of this opportunity for themselves and their employees who chose to receive the vaccine. The restaurants who have participated thus far have all expressed gratitude knowing their employees can protect themselves and their customers from the hepatitis A virus.

Any food-service worker employed in Genesee County can receive the vaccine.

By receiving the vaccine, you are also protecting yourself from getting the virus if you come in contact with dishes and/or utensils that may have been contaminated by a customer or coworker.

Restaurants that participate in this opportunity will receive a certificate honoring their commitment to protecting the health and safety of their workers and customers.

Limited vaccine is available through the funding, so the supply will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, please call the Genesee County Health Department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555. The department is open Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information on the hepatitis A virus, click (PDF) here.

May 31, 2019 - 5:24pm

 

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Batavia has a new Mexican food truck, Over the Border, from the Bender family -- Todd, Evan, and Ryan.

Evan said he hopes this is one of many different food trucks they plan to operate out of Batavia.  

October 29, 2018 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in terry hills, restaurants, news, notify, batavia.

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Let's talk about French fries.

The lowly fry. Can you really kick it up a notch?

Cooking a gourmet fry is actually no secret. Any competent chef can do it. But it's a lot of work.

The new chef at Terry Hills, John Steward, is ready to do the work.

It's a four-day process that consists of blanching, drying, blanching again, more drying, freezing and then frying.

The result is a fry that has a veneer of crunch and a soft, fluffy center, like a perfectly cooked baked potato or a mouthful of savory clouds.

We told Steward we were going to write about his fries and that some people might find that odd. He agreed.

"People will be like 'oh, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, talking about good French fries,' " Steward said. "A fry is a fry, you know. But at the same time, people feel like, 'oh, why is this fry so good? What's so different?' And that's what we need right now. We need people talking about Terry Hills. So many times I hear that people forget that Terry Hills is a restaurant."

A native of Rochester, Steward, is a new father, current resident of Le Roy and the former sous chef at Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn.

Terry Hills isn't his first head chef's job, but it may be his most important. It's a chance, he said, not only to take Terry Hills to the next level but also to better establish his name and provide his staff with the training necessary to help advance their careers. Those are his goals.

They're ambitious for a guy who a little over six years ago started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher and quickly moved through his first kitchen, entirely self taught, to be ready to run a kitchen himself a few years later -- La Luna, in Rochester.

"Yeah, I never went to a culinary college or school," Steward said. "Everything I've learned, I've learned on the job. I've done a lot of research on my own, watched a lot of shows, read a lot. When I first started, I would go to the public market and buy a bag full of potatoes and  sit in my apartment working on knife cuts."

Danielle Rotondo, VP, and co-owner of Terry Hills, said Steward was just what management was looking for -- young and ambitious and eager to take the dining experience for lunch, dinners, and banquets to the next level. He came out on top after three rounds of interviews and several reference checks.

"We want to grow; we want to do more; we want to show Batavia that we're not just a golf course," Rotondo said. "You know we have our golf course, our restaurant, our banquet facility, we have all of that here, and, yes, we want to show that there are some different things out here and there are different ways to do it. Yes, it's Batavia, but we can also go on the edge a little bit and try something else."

To show off how Terry Hills will take it to the next level, a couple of weeks ago the restaurant hosted a chef's menu night for a few dozens guests both to introduce some new dishes and as a kind of soft opening on how things are changing.

It was at that chef's menu night that we tried those crisp, fluffy fries. But Steward also introduced diners to his gnocchi carbonara, like everything that night, made from scratch, consisting of hand-rolled, house-made ricotta in a rich and thick carbonara sauce with diced ham and peas.

Steward also served a dry-aged strip steak, a pan-seared salmon, chicken roulade, to go along with a wedge salad, a Caesar salad, and a grain medley.

Many of these dishes -- particularly, say, the fries and the gnocchi -- take substantial prep time but Steward said there's no reason he and his line staff aren't up to the demands of the extra effort.

"As you're organized, you always have lists going; then it should be executable," Steward said. "There's no reason why it shouldn't be executable."

Steward said what makes a good dining experience is fresh ingredients, scratch cooking, and service. It's his job to oversee all aspects of a guest's experience at Terry Hills now, and he plans to pay attention to those details.

"Even if I go to a diner, or if I go to a finer place, you can see if the food is taken care of, if people care about quality," Steward said. "I think that is what makes a good meal -- making sure you use fresh ingredients, you use the proper techniques, execute the proper techniques. Your execution is what makes a good meal."

He said he expects the care of the kitchen staff to be carried out into the dining room by the servers.

"Nothing frustrates me more when I go to a place, and I ask a server a question about the menu, and the server is like, 'I don't know,' Steward said. "You should, you should. To me, I feel like it's your job to know the menu to know what the chef is trying to cook.

"There's going to be time and money invested to ensure our staff is trained properly."

The one thing Steward didn't change for the night was Terry Hill's famous seafood bisque.

"The only thing I might change is the garnish and change the saltines to oyster crackers," Steward said. "I think a seafood bisque should have oyster crackers."

While upgrading the sit-down lunch and dinner menus for Terry Hills is high on the agenda, Steward said he also plans to revamp the banquet service.

"I'm not knocking the former chefs here, but some of these recipes are outdated," Steward said, "by like 25 years."

That doesn't necessarily mean there will be big changes in menu choices. He already considers Terry Hills the premier banquet facility in Batavia. He thinks a few changes to how things are done will make it even better.

"I understand that like I can completely get everything off the menu," Steward said. "But, again, some of the techniques we're using here again are outdated. No one uses them anymore so. Therefore, we need to update our techniques to make a better product. The quality of the product will improve but still essentially be the same, they will have the same ingredients, but it's just going to be a better product overall because it's done better."

Steward said the chef's that inspire him include: Massimo Bottura, owner of Osteria Francescana in Italy, now ranked the #1 restaurant in the world (Bottura was the subject of the first episode of Chef's Table on Netflix); Thomas Keller, a chef and restauranteur in California; and, Wylie Dufresne, a chef in Manhattan.

"I pride myself working hard, putting in the hours," Steward said. "I think anyone who does that is going to do well in any field."

Steward thinks he can take what he's learned on his own and use that knowledge to help make his line cooks better. He would like to be known as a chef who helps his staff advance their careers.

"I really want to make really good food," Steward said. "In that process, I want to teach the guys that are here, too. As I said from day one, my goal is for you guys, whenever your time is up here, is to walk into any kitchen (and) be the best cook that walks in that kitchen because you've got trained by me."

October 28, 2018 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Los Compadres, restaurants, batavia, news, business.

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You know you're in an authentic taqueria when you spot a sign next to the salsa roja warning the gringos, "Danger!"

Not every dish in a Mexican restaurant is spicy, of course, but if the discerning diner doesn't have the option to bite into something that bites back, then it's just not the real deal.

A bottle of Frank's Hot Sauce on the counter doesn't cut it.

"I think we are very very authentic," said Jose Castañeda, owner of the brand new Los Compadres at 40 Oak St., Batavia. "We serve tacos and pretty much that's what we do. We will be getting a liquor license, of course, in the near future.

(The U.S. colloquial translation of Los Compadres is "The Buddies.")

"We do try to be as authentic as we can. We have very good people, very good cooks and they take a lot of pride in what they do. I think that helps us to be successful."

During the first week of business, local residents have had no trouble finding Los Compadres, keeping the lunch and dinner hours busy, often with repeat customers, Castañeda said.

"Many people that we've served since we opened had come back three days in a row," Castañeda said.

The success isn't unexpected for Castañeda. This is the 10th Upstate Mexican restaurant the Batavia-resident has opened, including another Los Compadres in Evans Mills, near Ft. Drum, with the same menu, that has done very well.

"I would say that 90 percent of our customer base is military (at Los Compadres in Evans Mills)," Castañeda said. "They are very happy with the food there. We are a five-star restaurant there and we have a thousand reviews. Being that I'm a resident in Batavia and I wanted to do it here, too."

For those of us with experience eating at authentic taquerias, there are other good signs when you walk into Los Compadres, starting with the straightforward menu above the front counter, the Mexican pottery and artwork displayed in the dining area, a salsa bar so you can garnish your own tacos, and the drink dispenser serving Mexican favorites, the refreshing agua frescas -- horchata, tamarindo and jamaica.

On the menu, tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and tamales, with meat choices including pollo (chicken), carne asada (the main ingredient in an authentic Tijuana street taco), molida (ground beef), barbacoa (brisket), al pastor (pork with pineapple), chorizo (Mexican pork sausage), cesina (dry salted steak), lengua (tongue), camarones (shrimp), tripa (gut), taco baja (fried fish), taco compadres (fried shrimp).

One of the best things about Mexican food is it is inexpensive. Tacos range in price from $2.50 to $4.

Rice and refried beans on the side are only $1 each.

The tacos are served with corn tortillas, which is as it should be; though, if you want to go gringo with your tacos, you can order flour tortillas.

Castañeda staff takes the time with new customers who may have little experience with Mexican food to explain the difference between tacos, torts, quesadillas and tamales.

The secret to a restaurant's success, Castañeda said, isn't just the food, it's the customer service. Restaurants that fail often miss the mark with customer service, so he said he makes sure his staff provides great service.

Castañeda was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, which is in the north central area of the country, south of Monterrey, north of Guadalajara. His parents immigrated when he was a young child and their first jobs were picking cotton in Texas.

While he was still a child, they moved to Western New York for farm work. Near the end of his 10th-grade year, Castañeda dropped out of high school and took a job on a farm in Brockport.

When he was 16, he went to work for Craig Yunker at CY Farms.

"I've worked ever since," Castañeda said. "I worked for the farms and any farm work I did, I did with pride in everything I did. It didn't matter what I was doing, whether I was sweeping the floor or if I was operating a tractor, I put pride in my work. That's that was how I was raised."

Castañeda started in the cabbage fields at CY Farms, he said. It wasn't long before the Yunkers took notice of his worth ethic. He was made a tractor operator and then moved to pesticide management for Batavia Turf. By 2006, after learning every job of the operation, he became manager of Batavia Turf, a position he held until 2016 when he quit to give his full attention to his burgeoning restaurant empire.

Castañeda started in the food business after visiting a cabbage operation for CY Farms in Florida and spotting a food trailer serving migrant workers on the farm there.

"I was down there and I saw people coming to the farms and bringing the food to the migrant workers so I thought it's a great idea," Castañeda said. "At that time here in Genesee County there was none of that going on, so I went to Indiana and bought a trailer."

His wife, Karina, pretty much ran that business until six years ago when she became pregnant with their now 5-year-old son.

In 2014, he opened his first restaurant in Lockport.

He was working at this point more than 100 hours a week, starting at Batavia Turf at 4 a.m. and working until the early evening and then doing the books and paperwork for his restaurants at night.

"It was busy working on the farm and trying to manage the restaurant," Castañeda said. "I felt there was a good business. It was a lot of work but it was a good business."

Leaving CY Farms wasn't an easy decision, though Castañeda said it proved to be the right decision.

"My wife was opposed to it because I guess, we got so used to working on the farm and making a living," Castañeda said. "I was pretty much my own boss."

Castañeda and Karina have three children, Brenda, 24, Jocelyn, 17, and Jose Sebastian, 5. The family bought a home in the City of Batavia 15 years ago.

"My parents were migrant workers," said Castañeda, whose mother has returned to Mexico and whose father died 12 years ago. "They started picking cotton in Texas. We grew up very poor. Even when I got married to my wife back in 1993, we were very, very poor.

"I worked many hours on the farm. Still, we were barely getting by. But I think through years of hard work and persistence, I always had a dream to give my kids what I wasn't given."

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